Brad has suffered from clinical depression for many years. Therapy and medications have helped some, but not entirely and not consistently. There are days when all he wants to do is stay in bed. On other days—his good days—he’s active and highly involved with the world.
Would he like to feel that way every day? Of course. But he doesn’t … pure and simple. And because he feels like a failure and a burden to others, his depression is complicated with shame.
“When it comes to depression,” Brad says, “most the world says to snap out of it.”
Unfortunately, he’s right. The world isn’t very sympathetic toward sadness. We expect people, including ourselves, to be happy all the time.
In our therapy sessions, I try to help Brad be self-accepting—to look warmly at himself. I remember telling him: “Depression isn’t something you wish upon yourself.” It helped him to hear that.
As for his family, when their best efforts to help fail to produce results, they can grow impatient. That’s normal. And it’s also normal to fall into the same trap of shame—being hard on themselves.
Not long ago, his 25-year-old daughter wowed me with this:
“As a family, we need to see him as having cancer. We wouldn’t get mad at him for that. He can’t help it.”
Depression can be a difficult and oftentimes life-long struggle. Shame is the last thing anyone—Brad or his family—needs as added weight.
Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.
Another gorgeous photo, courtesy of Tracie Louise Photography.